Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
This verse has become very familiar since the rise of the Charismatic Movement, at least, for at least the last half-century. To me the striking thing about it is how utterly matter-of-fact it is. The debauchery of drunkenness is obvious, and choosing to be filled with the Holy Spirit is expressed on the same level. This isn’t some grand, mystical thing attainable only by the elect few, it’s as available as a drink of wine. The thing is, getting drunk is part of walking according to the flesh, as came up a couple of days ago, and being filled with the Spirit is obviously part of walking according to the Spirit. When our hearts are tuned to God and He truly has first place in our lives, He is going to pour His Spirit onto, into, and through us. It is up to Him what manifestation gifts He gives us, as it talks about in 1 Corinthians 12, but being filled with the Spirit is available to every believer. I have become convinced that we are the ones who shut that off, rather than our having to persuade Him to fill us. As is well known, Paul speaks of quenching (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieving (Ephesians 4:30) the Holy Spirit. If we love God and avoid those things (quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit), then the Holy Spirit will be pleased to indwell us more and more.
My own experience of the infilling of the Holy Spirit was quite complicated by confusing it with manifestation gifts. Once I got that straight it was the most natural thing in the world, and gifts indeed followed. Too often we make the grave mistake of placing the gifts of the Spirit above the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Someone who is filled with the Spirit may or may not have any particular gift, but they will certainly be experiencing the fruit. I can say from experience that operating in the gifts can be a rush, but bearing the fruit is ultimately more satisfying. I have known people who were operating in the gifts of the Spirit all the while grieving the Spirit by their covert sensuality, and the fruit of the Spirit rapidly disappeared from their lives. As a pastor, I need to help the believers understand that the Holy Spirit is as available to them as He is to me. With that, I need to help them believe that He truly wants to use them to do the Father’s will, just as we proclaim each Sunday in our verse for the year, John 14:12. When each believer in this church chooses to be filled with the Spirit, then there is no limit to what the Lord will be able to do through us.
Father, thank You for this clear Word, just in time to incorporate it into the message for Sunday. Help me draw it all into the form You desire, because that is what will penetrate hearts and minds. May we all wake up to the incredible riches You have for us so that we may live and act as Your children, Your representatives, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!